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February 14, 2006

Finally, a Plausible 360 Excuse

Dean Takahashi finally comes with the hardline.

One of two companies supplying the Xbox 360's storage memory chips, Infineon, has had trouble making enough of the chips at the right speed for the game console that debuted last November, according to the sources. As a result Microsoft has not been able to meet the demand for the console.


Specifically, the sources say Infineon wasn't able to make enough GDDR3 (graphics double data rate) memory chips for the Xbox 360. Each box has 512 megabytes of GDDR3 that stores a game's data. Both Infineon and Samsung supply GDDR3 chips to Microsoft.

Some Infineon chips ran slower than 700-megahertz speed that was required, according to the sources. This was a big problem because the Xbox 360 has only a single highway (dubbed unified memory architecture) connecting memory with two processors, the graphics chip and microprocessor. When either of those chips can't access memory as needed because of the slow memory chips, then the processing within the entire system bogs down.

As a result, Microsoft has had to start sorting the slow GDDR3 chips from the fast ones, adding a delay to the production of the boxes and limiting the total numbers it can build.

I think that if we would have been told this a while ago, we (meaning techie folks) might have pointed a bigger finger at MSFT for backing away from IBM. It was hard for me to believe that Flextronics and Wistron would both have serious problems meeting demand.

Bottom line, all of these demand planning excuses were a smokescreen to cover Infineon's ass.

Posted by mbowen at February 14, 2006 01:04 PM

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